Prevent Pollution

It is against the law to pollute the water with things like oil, garbage, hydrocarbons and untreated sewage in inland waters.

Canada has laws that protect our waterways and shorelines, and some of them apply to pleasure craft.  It is your responsibility to make sure you know and obey the laws in force wherever you go boating.

The Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and for Dangerous Chemicals address major risks to the health of our waterways and shorelines such as sewage, garbage and hydrocarbons.

Sewage contains, among other things, human or animal body waste, drainage and other waste from toilets.

The regulations prohibit the use of free standing portable toilets.   They also require that boats fitted with toilets be equipped with either a holding tank or a marine sanitation device.

Reduce Pollution from Bilges

Oil, fuel, anti-freeze and transmission fluid are some of the pollutants that can harm the environment when pumped overboard – usually by automatic bilge pumps.   Bilge cleaners, even the biodegradable ones, just break down the oil into tiny, less visible droplets.   Absorbent bilge cloths are very useful because they are designed to absorb petroleum products and repel water.   Keep bilge pollution at a minimum by using the following methods:

  • Turn off automatic bilge pumps. Only use them when needed and when the bilge contains only water.
  • Use towels or bilge cloths to absorb oils, fuel, antifreeze and transmission fluid. Dispose of used towels or bilge cloths in an approved garbage container.

Pollution from Hull Maintenance

Anti-fouling materials contain toxic materials by their very nature.   When sanding or scraping hull anti-fouling and other hull materials, lay down a tarpaulin beneath the work area.   Use a hooded dustless sander attached to a shop vacuum with a filter bag.   Vacuum up any loose material and double bag toxic material before proper disposal.

Invasive Species

Invasive species, such as zebra mussels and green crab can take over local waters.   If you operate your boat on one body of water and then tow it over land to another area it is very important to keep your hull clean.   Rinsing or cleaning your hull after use or before entering new waters helps to remove spores and other invasive organisms.   Some communities require this as part of local bylaws.

Report Pollution

The Pollutant Discharge Reporting Regulations require the operator of a pleasure craft to report pollution as soon as practical.     There is an obligation to take remedial action if possible.   

The probability of a discharge resulting from damage to a vessel or its equipment during a collision or accident is a reason for making a report.
In judging whether there is such a probability and whether a report should be made, the following factors, among others, should be taken into account:

  • the nature of the damage, failure or breakdown of the ship, machinery or equipment.
  • sea and wind state and also traffic density in the area at the time and place of the incident.

Reports may be made to a Government of Canada pollution prevention officer or relayed through the nearest Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre via VHF radio.     Details should include the nature of the pollution, latitude and longitude, the time of observation and any other relevant information.